I love home grown cucumbers. There is absolutely no relation to the tasteless varieties you find most of the year in the supermarkets. These are a Chinese variety called Suyo Long. They are crunchy, flavorful and sweet with tiny seeds. We bought the seeds from Johnny’s Seed Catalogue.
This is the first year our cucumbers plants haven’t been gobbled up by the rabbits and woodchucks or blighted by one of the many diseases that attack cucumbers. So now we are in cucumber heaven. The best thing to do with these is to eat them sliced with a little salt. Here are some of the simple and great things I do with cucumbers when I want to do something a little more exotic.
CUCUMBERS WITH DILL AND FETA
Stay simple with cucumbers and don’t salt them until the last minute. This Greek preparation combines small cubes of cucumber and the same size cubes of good quality Feta cheese and chopped dill. Right before serving add the salt and toss with a really good olive oil.
Tomato and cucumber salad
This preparation is Middle Eastern. This is the salad eaten in Arab and Israeli families because where you can eat amazing cucumbers and tomatoes most of the year. This salad is great stuffed into a pita with hummus and tahini. I make this salad with small cubes of tomato and cucumber, salt and finished with olive oil again. But in the Middle East you’ll see this salad with lots of parsley and scallion and lemon juice. When you have perfect tomatoes and cucumbers for only a couple months around here, I want to enjoy them unadorned.
Cucumbers and Carrots with Miso Dip
Remember Kayuga Japanese Restaurant on Eddy Street? We were frequent flyers there and I liked their miso dip so much that I asked for the recipe. I was rewarded with a little piece of paper on which was written the ingredients but not the quantities. In the true spirit of intuitive cooking I’ll also pass along the basic ingredients and method and then leave it up to the reader to concoct their own version. Start with 1/2 cup of Sake and 1/4 cup of mirin. Boil together until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Turn off the heat and add miso a little at a time starting with a heaping tablespoon. The trick to miso is not to boil it. I use white miso in this recipe, but you can experiment with different types of miso. You’ll want the consistency to be like ketchup. It will thicken once cooled. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a few shakes of roasted sesame seeds. Then taste. If you want it sweeter, add a pinch of sugar. This lasts for several days in the fridge.
Miso can be found in many grocery stores. Greenstar has it in bulk in the back of their store so you can buy small quantities and experiment with different types of miso. Wegmans has tubs of miso in the cooler section which also containes seitan and tofu.